July 17th, 2009
11:46 AM ET

Financial Dispatch: Happy anniversary at the pump

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://money.cnn.com/2005/12/08/news/economy/housing_bubble_jobs/new_home_build.03.jpg caption="Housing starts increased by 3.6% in June." width=215 height=161]
Gene Bloch
Managing Editor, CNN New York

All is certainly not well with the economy, but rising home construction and still-falling gas prices are welcome news for a Summer Friday.

Groundbreaking on new homes – the figure known as housing starts – surged 3.6% in June to an annual rate of 582-thousand, led by a 14% increase in single-family home construction. The gain, which was much better than expected, was led by a 14-percent increase in single-family construction. Building permits also rose more than expected, indicating a brighter performance this month. While it’s too early to declare a recovery in housing under way, the news is good.

Happy anniversary, everyone. It was one year ago today that AAA reported gas prices at $4.114 a gallon for regular unleaded, a record high.

Since then, prices have plunged almost 40%, with the average price at $2.481. Gas prices have fallen more than 21 cents over the past 26 days.

But will they keep falling?

Troubled banking giants Citigroup and Bank of America both turned in better than expected quarterly results this morning, Citigroup’s net profit of $4.3 billion is owed primarily to a $6.7 billion gain on the company’s sale of Smith Barney (to Morgan Stanley) and B of A posted a $3.2 profit. The news comes after strong results this week from JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs, which have paid back the billions they received from the government under the TARP bailout.

One company NOT receiving additional government assistance is CIT Group, a major source of funding for a million small and medium sized businesses. If CIT were to file for bankruptcy, many of those businesses would suffer or have to shut down. CIT issued a statement late Thursday saying it’s in discussions with lenders to secure financing. We’ll be keeping a close eye on this.

And today’s angle on Money’s Best Places to live is a fun one: if you’re looking for a mate, Money takes a look at which towns and cities where rich single professionals are most abundant. Hermosa Beach, CA and Arlington, VA top the list.

Other things we're covering on CNNMoney today:

Out of work, out of benefits, out of luck. By August, 65% of all filers for unemployment insurance will have run out of their standard 26 weeks of benefits. And that's just the beginning: A crisis looms.

Help! My jobless benefits ran out. These people have been unemployed so long that they exhausted their unemployment benefits. How do they cope without a weekly check?

Map: How many weeks of unemployment insurance does your state offer?

Buy a foreclosure: 5 great deals

Obama turns up heat on mortgage servicers. Administration will tell financial institutions they must do more to help borrowers. 'We think we can do even more,' official says.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Finance • Gas Prices • Unemployment
soundoff (One Response)
  1. Annie Kate

    There are a large group of computer programmers who lost their jobs to off-shored resources about a year ago and all are still looking for another job. All are willing to move; willing to take a pay cut over what they last made as long as it isn't something ridiculous like 50%; all have over 10 years of experience and got really good evaluations on their work. How many interviews? Zero. Our benefits are running out and we are looking at taking jobs at clerks, etc. to keep food on the table – trouble is you work a hard 40 hours a week for that and its not much more than unemployment and it detracts from the available time you have to look for a job in what you are trained to do. Housing may be going great guns but from where I sit we are just trying to hang onto what we have and are lost as what to do if we can't even find work as a clerk.

    Obama kept claiming his stimulus bill would create jobs – where are they??

    July 17, 2009 at 6:23 pm |